The Narrator of 'Brighton Rock'

G.A. Wilkes


On re-reading Brighton Rock after an interval of over thirty years, I found myself being preoccupied by the narrative method. This would be partly a residual effect of the 'thriller', the mode in which the novel began, with Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps as Greene's exemplar of the genre. In later years Greene was apt to shrug off the 'thriller' element, claiming that 'the first fifty pages of Brighton Rock are all that remain of the detective story', but of course the thriller 'plot' continues to direct the narrative, through the bet on Black Boy, the chance photographing of Spicer, and Ida's encounters with Cubitt, Colleoni and Dallow. Brighton Rock is still a detective novel to the point when Pinkie plunges over the cliff, although by then we are looking to other outcomes from the narrative. The book that had been styled 'An Entertainment' on the title-page of the first Penguin edition had been removed from that category by its author by the time of the Collected Edition of 1970.

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